18 July 2008

The Second Puberty

On days like this, I'm not sure of whether I've underachieved or simply gotten the restoration my mind--and body--needed.

I slept until almost 8 this morning. I don't get to do that during the workweek, and it seems like a luxury even though I'd gone to bed some time after midnight. So, according to doctors and sleep experts, I still didn't get as much sleep as I'm supposed to.

Then again, I don't know anyone who sleeps that much, except on a holiday or sick day. Even then, people don't get that much more sleep than they normally get.

One thing I've noticed since I've started taking the hormones: I get to bed later and sleep later than I used to. These days it's harder for me to get up very early. And I find that I'm not as consistent as I used to be in the amount of sleep I get every night.

Other trans people have described similar experiences to me. I don't know why the transition affects our sleep. But I can, if nothing else, venture a guess based on my own experience.

When I was about to start my tranisiton, my doctor told me that I would go through a "second puberty." In other words, my body would go through changes very similar to those experienced by 12- to 14-year olds. What that meant was that, among other things, I would grow breasts, some of my facial features and other areas of my body would become more feminine, and I would become more intensely emotional. And I could gain weight, as kids often do in their puberty. All of those things have come true: I'm somewhere between an A and a B cup (Conventional wisdom says that a trans woman's will be one size smaller than her mother's: That's about right, in my case.), I am always addressed as "ma'am" or "miss" by strangers--even today, when I was riding my bike in shorts and a baggy T-shirt and without makeup--and, as for my emotions, well, if you've been following Tranny Times, you don't need any explanation of that. And, as for my weight gain, I hope I follow another pattern of puberty in losing it as my new bodily characteristics mature.

The point is, in puberty and in the adolescence that follows, one is living on a child's external clock while the rest of the world is running on Grown-Ups' Standard Time (GUST). Or vice versa: You have a GUST bodily clock while the world is running on children's time. And, most of us yo-yo between both states. That is why it seems that we're sprinting ahead of or falling behind everyone else when we walk. We, like kids in their early teens, never seem to keep abreast with the rest of the world. You might say--sorry, Thoreau--that we're hearing different drummers from the rest of the world.

That, I believe, is also the reason why kids of that age will often write poetry--sometimes very intense--or engage in other creative pursuits that fall by the wayside somewhere in their late teens or early adulthood. I think now of the poetry workshops I used to do as a visiting artist in the schools: The most incredible stuff was written by sixth, seventh and eighth-graders. And most of them would never write poetry or short stories again after they left adolescence.

That is one way I'm different from pubescent boys and girls. I've been writing in one fashion or another for as long as I can remember; if I haven't abandoned it by now, I don't think I ever will.

Back to sleep: Ever notice that that kids in puberty can stay up all of one night and the next but sleep all through the next day? Or so it seems. And--I think back to being a camp counselor--you practically have to lift them by their feet with a crane and drop them if you want them to wake up early enough to be on time for anything? Or so it seems. I couldn't count how many kids showed up at the mess hall just as it stopped serving breakfast!

(All right. If there's a pubescent kids' defamation league, I'm probably on their "hit list" now. Some days I'd be more worried about them than the Mafia, FBI, Mossad or any so-called terrorist organization. Other days, I'd be about as worried over them as I am over the prospect of a blizzard on this hot midsummer night.)

Now I'm ready to sleep again. Tomorrow: Same time (well, more or less), same pages.